BEN 10: ULTIMATE ALIEN “Prisoner Number 775 is Missing” Season 2, Episode 12 – Just like Paradox had warned a couple episodes ago, Old George showed up in this week’s episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Turns out, Old George is one cranky geezer with a whole lot of power.
We actually don’t learn much more about Old George other than his ability to overtake armed military personnel and destroy secret military bases with ease. I’m so curious to find out what the deal is with this guy because I’m not really picking up any telltale patterns that might give me clues about his origins or what his motives are. Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is doing a good job at keeping this character enigmatic, while simultaneously making the things we do learn about him more threatening. I have doubts that his real intention in the destruction of Area 51 was to release Prisoner 775 and I doubt that his intentions were purely of the political sort, but since I don’t know anything about Old George, it’s difficult to guess what his actual motives are.
I really enjoy political allegory in fiction, but it wasn’t done quite right here. The set up was really heavy handed and sometimes it was so obvious that it bordered on silly. In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Area 51 is the Guantanamo Bay for alien terrorist suspects who are held without charges, without due process and in violation of intergalactic law. There are 775 alien prisoners held at Area 51 (the same as the number of detainees brought to Guantanamo Bay), who are being guarded by military personnel who believe that the violation of the prisoner’s rights is a fair price to pay to protect their country and their families from possible alien terrorist threats. Escaped Prisoner 775 turns out to be more of a refugee than a terrorist, but his time in Area 51 essentially converts him to a threat by making him hungry for revenge.
The important issues with the real life Guantanamo Bay that Ben 10: Ultimate Alien parallels in Area 51 are ones that should not be easily dismissed; but I think it would have been so much more effective, in terms of television, if the analogies were more subtle. It felt like they simply did a find-and-replace search, exchanging “Guantanamo Bay” with “Area 51″ and “Geneva Conventions” with “Kelly-Casey Accord” so on and so forth. Then again, there may be a number of viewers who didn’t realize that this episode was paralleling current events, so if being completely blatant about it encourages one person to read a little bit about the issues, so be it.
As a general rule, I can’t get enough of Rath so it was nice to see him run amok since I feel like he hasn’t had a whole lot of screen time recently. I loved the running gag that revolved around Ben shouting names before he transformed. I had always wondered why he would do that, and it was funny to see Kevin and Gwen both get their little jabs in about the name shouting thing. The “Overkill” joke when Ben transformed into ChamAlien totally cracked me up.
Overall, I thought this episode was very entertaining. It brought back earlier story lines and kept moving at a nice pace. I could have done with about a half dose of the politics for my weekly action cartoon lineup, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from enjoying all the other great parts of this week’s Ben 10: Ultimate Alien.